21st Century Learning

A PWR Elementary Monthly Update

What is 21st century education?

What does it we mean when we say 21st Century Learning?

21st century learning refers to certain core competencies such as collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving that advocates believe schools need to teach to help students thrive in today's world.

Preparing students for the 21st century is all about creativity, cultural awareness, problem solving, innovation, communication, productivity, collaboration and exploration, with the ultimate aim of making the classroom as dynamic as the world around us.

It is vital for the students to gain the learning and innovation skills which comprise of 4Cs, which constitute of critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.

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What does this look like in your classrooms?

When we talk about 21st century skills we are talking about more than just technology. 21st century classrooms look and feel different. The classroom environment should be collaborative, you should hear lots of voices and watch students actively learning.

Here are 5 suggestions on how to create your own 21st century learning environment.

1. Let Your Students Lead The Learning

Learning takes place best in environments where students feel empowered to learn. Effective teachers are more like moderators, offering inspiration and guiding students to discover for themselves. Give students the opportunity to be self-learners, which guarantees lifelong learning. This brings us directly to the second point.

2. Create an Inquiry-Based Classroom Environment

If students are to lead the way to learning, they need to be able to ask questions – and then find the means to answer them. Students (and teachers) need to “wonder out loud” as they encounter new information. A KWL chart (What do you Know? What do you Want to know? What have you Learned?) can guide students toward true self-motivated learning.

3. Encourage Collaboration

We are greater than the sum of our parts.” Herein is the heart of collaboration. A healthy, active classroom is a sharing classroom. Students are social beings, and even more so in a language class. Find every opportunity to allow students to form pairs and small groups. Not only does this encourage the development of speaking and listening skills, but it also teaches students how to effectively achieve goals together.

4. Develop Critical Thinking Skills

Learning is more than memorizing and remembering. Critical thinking skills take students well beyond simple comprehension of information. Students use these skills to solve problems in new situations, make inferences and generalizations, combine information in new patterns, and make judgments based on evidence and criteria. Introduce activities in your lessons that build critical thinking skills along with language skills.

5. Encourage Creativity

Encourage your students to be creative throughout each lesson. Creative activities allow students to express what they’ve learned in a new way. This synthesizing and personalizing of knowledge consolidates learning, and creates an experience that remains with students long after the class is over.

By keeping these strategies in mind as you plan each lesson, you will be encouraging the development of 21st Century skills. Of course, your students may also need time to adjust to this new way of learning. However, they will soon begin to feel empowered to think more critically, to ask questions and seek answers, and to express themselves creatively. Most importantly, their communication skills will become much stronger as a result, which always remains our main objective!


Want to learn more? Here are some great resources

Framework for 21st Century Learning: http://www.p21.org/our-work/p21-framework

P21 Common Core Toolkit: http://www.p21.org/storage/documents/P21CommonCoreToolkit.pdf

CDE 21st Century Skills Brochure (great to share with your families): https://www.cde.state.co.us/sites/default/files/documents/cdelib/librarydevelopment/schoollibraries/downloads/pdf/21stcenturyskillsbrochure.pdf

Marzano's Teaching & Assesing 21st Century Skills Reproducables: http://www.marzanoresearch.com/reproducibles/teaching_assessing

Colorado P-12 Academic Standards (notice that 21st century skills are built into the competencies):


Article: Where the 3 R's Meet the 4 's:http://web.tech4learning.com/blog-0/bid/45149/The-21st-century-classroom-where-the-3-R-s-meet-the-4-C-s

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